This is a project by Consortium Cardinal Hardy + Claude Cormier + Associés and it is located at Montréal, Québec, Canada. It was submitted to Architecture News Plus (ANP) by Claude Cormier + Associés. Project's program: Commemoration and restoration of a public square. There are fifteen images for Square Dorchester - Place du Canada.
Dorchester Square was Canada’s wealthiest neighborhood at the end of the nineteenth century; its monuments and surrounding edifices are emblematic of the history and fabric of Montréal. Built between 1876 and 1880 upon a desacralized cemetery where 50,000 human remains are still buried, the square is significant in terms of archeology, architecture, and landscape history. The proposal aims to restore the original Victorian public square, enhance links to urban generators of social activity, and remove incompatible uses to this classic oasis of grandeur in one of the city’s most venerable districts.
Named to commemorate the Confederation of 1867, Dominion Square has endured as the largest and most renowned garden square in Montreal. The southern and northern portions were respectively renamed Place du Canada in 1966 and Dorchester Square in 1987, with these spaces becoming emblematic of Montreal’s Golden Age when the city was Canada’s premier metropolis. Flanked by what is still a prestigious area of downtown Montreal, along with a impressive assortment of iconic buildings, Square Dorchester has remained a space for festivities, cultural events, and political meetings. Thousands of graves are preserved below the park as a remnant from its past when it served as the St. Antoine Cemetery. Nine significant monuments were also established over the decades that attest to the archaeological and historical value of the site.
Despite the important presence that Dominion Square has played throughout Montreal’s history, it nonetheless was subjected over time to alterations and urban pressures that ultimately diminished the quality of the park experience. However, it is interesting to note that the park layout and the relationship of the square to the surrounding urban fabric have remained intact, which, along with the regularities of the surrounding streets, have contributed to the preservation of an exceptional ensemble and balance between architecture, street and landscape. The alterations that did occur resulted in a transformation of the square’s geometry, a reduction space for public use, and a suppression of important visual links. Poor management of the site environment also degraded the park from its original form and quality. The accumulation of these alterations over the years preceding restoration were manifested in the loss of character throughout the green parterre, an incoherence in the distribution of tree species, pedestrian pathways that deviated from the original circulation, and an absence of urban furniture.
Although distinctively contemporary in its design approach and methodology, the restoration of Dominion Square needed to uphold its original identity and sense of place. A simple and meaningful approach was taken to preserve and enhance the integrity of the site’s archeological heritage, sustainability of plant species, as well as spatial qualities and the overall landscape experience. The rejuvenation of the park’s comfort and splendour have been achieved by restoring the parterre motif of lawn, reconnecting the site to its context, increasing the surface area of the Square, as well as reconfiguring and highlighting entrances (particularly through the addition of water features). The site’s history is referenced through the creation of a subtle ground pattern of crosses inlaid in uneven rows in the pavers that mark the cemetery below.
This project aims to restore the original Victorian public square, enhance links to urban generators of social activity, and remove incompatible uses to this classic oasis of grandeur in one of the city’s most venerable districts.